Guitar Concerto Aranjuez

Robert Bekkers plays Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez in his second DMA concert at the New England Conservatory in Boston.


Those of you who contributed to Robert Bekkers’ crowd-funding campaign to raise cash for his second doctoral music of arts concert in Boston probably wondered how it went.

If you’re as lucky as I was to attend this concert on Sunday May 11th, 2014, you’d know that it was an incredible feat. My friends Alice and Stuart and I sat in the right front row with our smart phones and cameras, wishing the concert could be repeated.

Most orchestral performances are instigated by the orchestra, the conductor, or the institution. In this case, it was put together by the soloist who found the musicians to create a bespoke orchestra to play a one-off concert.

This was no small task for it required not only finding a conductor and musicians but also raising money to rent the sheet music. Once the orchestra was formed, it would be easier to arrange future concerts with orchestra or subsets (ensembles) within. I foresee this happening.

If you are unfamiliar with the piece de resistance of the concert, look no further than watch the video recording of the live performance of Robert Bekkers with orchestra conducted by Kristo Kondakci.

Read Bob Knox’s review of this concerto to glean further into the interpretation.

The three movement masterpiece of the blind Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo is not only his most famous work but often considered the most famous of all guitar concertos. The original name “Concierto de Aranjuez” is also known as “Concierto Aranjuez” or “Concerto de Aranjuez” or “Aranjuez Guitar Concerto.” The second movement, in particular, has been transcribed for choir and other instruments. Rodrigo also wrote a version of this concerto for harp and orchestra.

My first encounter with this concerto came in Cartagena, Colombia, while on vacation in June 1998. I sightread it with a Cuban classical guitarist. The first movement was the hardest. Later Robert and I worked it into our repertoire and discovered that the third movement was the hardest. For most people, it’s the second movement they remember.

I knew the piano part and anticipated the different motifs but wasn’t quite sure which instruments played what. You could say that I was replaced by an orchestra for this concerto. There in Williams Hall at the New England Conservatory on Mother’s Day Sunday 2014, I heard the music come to life.

Note: the guitar was NOT amplified in this performance. There was no need, for the guitar was custom-built for the duo of piano and guitar, hence a “concert guitar” – by Amsterdam-based luthier Jeroen Hilhorst.

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

2 thoughts on “Guitar Concerto Aranjuez”

  1. Just listened to Robert’s recording. Mesmerizing ! Congratulations,
    Astrid and Bruce

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